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Lights, cameras, action — and more! Tips for improving your author and editor videos

30 de mayo de 2024

Por David Bowers

Photo depicting a female doctor making a home video about medication. (MixMedia/iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images)

MixMedia/iStock via Getty Images

Scholarly communication has experienced an explosion in video content. Here’s how to create better video abstracts, author interviews, journal club presentations and more.

Whether it’s an editorial announcementse abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana or a medical procedure walkthroughse abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana, video is becoming increasingly popular. At Elsevier, we’ve seen a 24% growth in videos viewed on our journal website platform in 2024 compared to 2023.

With readers’ attention stretched thin, it is vital that your video content is presented in the best light. Here are some tools and best practices for creating compelling videos.


Proper lighting is key to improving the overall quality of your video. Start by finding a good spot to set up. You’ll want to ensure that your face is evenly lit, so steer clear of strong, direct lights that create harsh shadows, whether they’re above you, behind you or off to the side. And avoid being backlit: Standing in front of a window, for example, will trick the camera into reducing the exposure, putting you into silhouette unless you use additional lighting.

If you’re having trouble finding the right spot, you can use additional lighting to create the correct environment. This could be as simple as using affordable USB halo lights, like those popular with video bloggers, or investing in semiprofessional lighting kits.

Good lighting not only enhances your appearance but also helps prevent camera noise, such as grainy or blocky images, which can occur when your camera struggles to cope with low light conditions.


As remote work and distributed teams become more common, many of us rely on the built-in cameras of our computers for recording video. While okay for day-to-day meetings, their small lenses and sensors are lower quality and limit your options for camera positioning.

Consider upgrading to a good standalone webcam. These cameras can capture higher-quality images and give you more flexibility in positioning for the best angles.

Another option is to use your smartphone. Both Android and iPhone offer apps, ranging from free to around $10, that allow your phone to function as a webcam. Plus many smartphones have impressive camera quality.

For the more adventurous types, some DSLR cameras offer the capability to stream directly to a computer, though this will require additional software and setup.

To improve video quality and flexibility, consider using a good standalone webcam. Pictured here is the Logitech C922x. (Photo by deeterontop via Upsplash)

To improve video quality and flexibility, consider using a standalone webcam. Pictured here is the Logitech C922x. (Photo by deeterontopse abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana via Upsplash)

Some DSLR cameras can be used for streaming, though this will usually required additional software and setup. (Photo by Ravi Palwe via Upsplash)

Some DSLR cameras can be used for streaming, though this will usually required additional software and setup. (Photo by Ravi Palwese abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana via Upsplash)


Before hitting record, it’s time to practice.

If you’re recording a session with a live audience (e.g., a journal club on Zoom), get comfortable with your software in advance — whether it’s Zoom, Skype, Teams or another platform. Make sure you’re familiar with features like screen sharing, muting participants, video layout options, and handling Q&A sessions.

Practice these with your team first, especially if you will have only one chance to capture your content.

If you’re planning to use presentation software (e.g., PowerPoint), understand how to use presenter mode and what content the audience will see. Especially if you use multiple monitors, this often requires trial and error. Close unnecessary background programs, like Outlook, and mute any messaging apps to avoid distractions.

Keep your content concise by setting an agenda and time limit.

For recorded interviews, opt for a wired internet connection whenever possible to avoid disconnections and stuttering caused by busy Wi-Fi networks. Ask the interviewee to do the same.


Woman using a good quality microphone with her laptop. (Photo by Soundtrap via Unsplash)

Use a good quality microphone (Photo by Soundtrapse abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana via Unsplash)

Remember that sound is a huge part of your video content. Audiences are far more forgiving of low-quality video than they are of sound. Again, this begins with location. Find somewhere quiet that’s not too big or empty that it creates an echoey sound.

For technology, you want a good quality microphone that’s kept close to your mouth. That could be a headset or any number of podcast microphones available at reasonable prices online. Do not use wireless microphones, and avoid earbuds with built-in mics.

Editing for engagement

When everything is “in the can,” use video editing tools to trim excess footage, such as a preamble at the beginning of a journal club, or any hiccups during an interview. Free software such as Clipchamp on Windows and iMovie on Apple offer a wide range of editing features to remove unwanted footage, add text (e.g., speakers names and titles) and adjust sound.

Finally, always consider accessibility requirements. Captions, or subtitles, are essential for engagement; many people watch videos online with the sound muted. Captions also make the videos accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and they enable search engines to process the content for better discoverability. Some software provides automatic captions and transcripts, which is fantastic, but the text often needs to be edited for typos. Also, captions will cover the bottom of slides, so always leave space. Additionally, if your camera is shown while in presenter mode (usually in the upper-right), make sure your face isn’t covering slide titles.

Finally, you can also make shorter videos (up to about a minute) to promote your content on social media.

Most of all, have fun making content your audience enjoys watching.